Dogs growling and snarling can be both alarming and confusing for pet owners. Understanding what causes dogs to make these noises, as well as how to respond to them, is crucial in maintaining a safe and harmonious relationship between pet and owner.

Growling is usually a form of aggressive vocalizations that dogs use to communicate their feelings and intentions. It’s important to note that sometimes dogs growl while playing with other dogs or with humans. It’s very common for dogs to growl while they are playing tug of war for example. These kind of growling is not aggressive and it’s ok.

What’s the difference between growling and snarling?

 Growling is a low, guttural noise that a dog makes when it feels threatened or defensive, while snarling is a more intense and threatening noise that is often accompanied by bared teeth and a wrinkled snout.

Is growling or snarling always aggressive?

It is important to understand that growling and snarling are not inherently aggressive behaviors. Rather, they are ways that dogs communicate their discomfort, fear or dominance in a situation. For example, if a dog is growling at a stranger who has approached it too quickly, it may be trying to signal that it is scared and wants the person to back off. On the other hand, if a dog is snarling at another dog that is trying to take its food, it may be trying to assert its dominance and protect its resources.

Should I ignore growling and snarling?

NO. It is important to take growling and snarling seriously, as they can be indicators of deeper issues such as fear, anxiety, or aggression. These issues can escalate over time if not addressed, potentially putting the dog and its owner in harm’s way.

If you notice your dog growling or snarling, it is important to assess the situation and try to determine what is causing the behavior. This may involve seeking the help of a professional dog trainer or behaviorist to identify any underlying issues and develop a training plan to address them.

What should I do when my dog growls?

If your dog is growling or snarling in a dangerous or aggressive situation, it is important to remove the dog from the situation and create a safe, low-stress environment for it. This may involve confining the dog to a crate or a separate room until he or she has calm down.

It is important to address a dog for growling or snarling and guide him or her into calmness as soon as possible in a safe manner. Reinforcing calm and relaxed behavior although it’s advisable ultimately won’t change the behavior itself. In order to modify aggressive behavior you need to change the emotional response of your dog to the trigger or environment that causes it at the moment it’s happening. This may need some high level skill of Behavior Training with a good plan and strategy. Your relationship with your dog is also a crucial factor to a successful outcome. Without a relationship where your dog fully trusts you and respects you, overcoming any behavioral issue is going to be close to impossible. 

What should I not do when my dog growls?

Do not scream or yell to your dog. This could potentially make it worse since it can trigger more predatory behavior and higher arousal on your dog. Do not make fast movements or rush into action. If you are in danger freeze and wait until the dog calms down. 

What other things can I do to prevent growling?

In addition to addressing any underlying behavioral issues, it is important to provide your dog with plenty of exercise, socialization, and self control skills to help keep your dog happy and relaxed. Incorporating behavioral training in your dog’s life paired with obedience training is a must in order to overcome aggression. 

What’s the most dangerous sign of aggression?

Growling or snarling are easy to read signs that can predict behavior. But the most dangerous sign of aggression is the one that is in silence. The dog usually makes eye contact with the target, tenses up and gets ready to strike. The next move is the bite and it happens fast. Never make eye contact with a tense or aggressive dog. If you do break the eye contact as fast as possible without moving your body. You only need to move your eyes. If you make fast movements with your body you’ll trigger the bite.

In conclusion, growling and snarling are important forms of communication that dogs use to signal their feelings and intentions. While these behaviors can be alarming, it is important to understand their underlying causes and take steps to address them in a positive and effective way. With the right training and care, you can help your dog overcome any behavioral issues and build a happy, harmonious relationship.

© Gabriel Riesco, Pawmos Dog Training LLC |   All Rights Reserved December 2022